Best of Florida: What to See and Do at the Sunshine State

An eternal summer vacation is what everyone thinks of when Florida comes to mind. Aptly named ‘the sunshine state’, Florida can provide that perfect tropical vacation experience- albeit with an all-American twist. Theme parks, alligators, beaches, bays, orange juice, and of course, the ever shining sun are some of the elements that make Florida stand out. A former Spanish colony with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Florida became the twenty seventh state of the Union. Today, domestic tourists, international travelers, and even celebrities adore Florida for its tropical charm and eternal sunshine.

Getting There

Some tourists go to Florida to live their Disney dream. For them and other who want to explore the attraction of Central Florida, their best choice airport would be Orlando International Airport. You can in fact, get free shuttles to Disney World from there. To get to South Florida, pick Miami International Airport that can help you get to the beaches of Miami or Everglades. Tampa Bay area visitors coming in from London, Canada, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, and Panama can directly go to Tampa International Airport as they have direct flights. If you are a domestic traveler looking for low fare air carriers, land at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Domestic travelers from Washington D.C and New York can also get there by train boarding the Amtrak Auto Train and Amtrak Silver Star respectively. Driving is always an option too.

The Attractions

There is just so much to see and do that we can’t even anymore! Pardon the Instagram language; let us walk you through some of the major destinations of Florida waiting to be explored.

First up comes the Panama City Beach that is just pure white sandy beach goodness stretching forty three kilometers. Situated on the Emerald Coast, the beach offers activities such as golfing, fishing, visits to marine parks, water parks, and amusements parks. There is even a marine park for alligators! In short, there is something to see and do for everyone in the family.

It may surprise you but the now fashionable Naples had really humble, rustic origins. Situated in the Gulf of Mexico, its name originated from the belief that its resident bay is more beautiful than the famous Bay of Naples, Italy. Besides having a wonderful beach, Naples boasts some wildlife refuges including Florida National Wildlife Reserve, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Everglades National Park. Naples is also home to some fashionable shopping districts and vibrant art culture.

Located near Fort Myers, Sanibel Island is an ethereal beauty in the Gulf of Mexico. Families are going to love this quiet and serene travel destination. This long, narrow island has some amazing beaches for shell hunting, wildlife refuges, a botanical garden, lighthouse, arts center and a historically rich museum.

For a happening cultural center and upmarket social scene, Fort Lauderdale or ‘The Venice of America’ is the place to be. Tourists absolutely adore its various marinas, hotels, museums, and golf courses. ‘The Strip’ though, is the main attraction for food lovers, complete with places to eat and drink that runs along the beach road.

Clearwater Beach has been named Florida’s Best Beach Town according to an opinion poll by USA Today, and for good reason. The dreamy white sandy beaches and cool blue waters offer swimming, sailing, kayaking, fishing and a chance to visit dolphins. This also happens to be a city of festivals, being home to Clearwater Jazz Festival, Sunsetting Festival at Pier 60, Spring Training Camp of Philadelphia Phillies, etc.

Lovers of theme parks, unite! Visit the theme park city of Orlando that boasts the most amount of theme parks anywhere in the world. Unleash your inner child at Walt Disney World, chill with alligators at Gator Park, watch the beauty of the sea at SeaWorld or watch your favourite fandom come to life at Universal Studios (hint: Harry Potter!)- take your pick. These theme parks bring in about fifty one million visitors to Orlando every year.

The Everglades is for those who want to be close to the serenity of nature. It features some unique ecosystems including sub-tropical jungles, swamps, saw-grass prairies and not to mention, the largest mangrove system in the Western Hemisphere. Everglades National Park protects most of these unique ecosystems, also home to different species of reptiles, birds, animals, and fish. You can go on a boat tour to the Ten Thousand Islands- the mangrove island labyrinth set to take your breath away. One of the most exciting tours in the Everglades happens to be the air boat tour. This offers an experience of a lifetime and the most thrilling tour of the Everglades.

One of the more famous places to visit in Florida is Tampa Bay- home to some popular cities like St. Petersburg, Tampa, etc. and a large natural harbor. Families are going to love hanging out at the Busch Gardens, which is a theme park with some of the best roller coaster experiences in Florida. The park also has an African themed zoo, bringing to life the Serengeti Plain. St. Petersburg beach is the best there is for beachcombing, as it was rated the best beach in the United States by the readers of TripAdvisor in 2012.

CSI fans are going to love the bustling nightlife and sizzling Latin culture of Miami. Miami is basically a major port city in the United States that manages passenger cruise ships. A melting pot of cultures, Miami attracts tourists from all over the globe and offers many exciting activities. The sunny beaches are great for both families and party animals. The Art Deco architecture of Miami Beach and the glamorous South Beach are worth visiting.

Last but not the least; explore The Florida Keys, which is a chain of tropical islands. Connected to the main land through an array of bridges, the highlight has to be the Seven Mile Bridge of the Lower Keys. Film buffs are going to recognize the bridge instantly as it has been featured in many famous movies such as Fast 2 Furious and True Lies. There are beaches, snorkeling, diving, museums, botanical gardens, outdoor activities, and family attractions such as the Theater of the Sea.

Florida is all set to welcome tourists and enthusiasts all year long with open arms. Its time you visit and tell us how it went!